French icon Charles Aznavour, one of the 20th century’s most prolific entertainers who continues to write and perform at 93, was due to be honored Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With a career spanning eight decades, the crooner has recorded 1,400 songs -- 1,300 of which he wrote -- and has produced over 390 albums in multiple languages.
“He’s written hundreds of songs that are known. He was awarded many awards for his work and he is still performing at his age, which is wonderful,” Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies, told AFP.
A recipient of France’s prestigious Officier de la Legion d’honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honor), which recognizes extraordinary military and civil service, Aznavour is also credited in more than 60 movies.
The star defied detractors who pointed to his unconventional looks to become one of France’s most iconic singers, dubbed the country’s Frank Sinatra, whose melancholy tunes have captivated global audiences.
He has said he still “writes every day, often a song a day” and performs tirelessly, drawing thousands to his shows.
Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian immigrants on May 22, 1924, he has sold more than 100 million records.
“Above all, I did it with love and dedication and for the pleasure for my audience,” he says on his website.
Aznavour’s parents fled the Turkish-ruled Ottoman Empire to escape the massacres then being committed against their compatriots and landed in Paris, where they were waiting for a visa to head to the United States.
When the visa never materialized they ended up making their home in France, producing shows which Aznavour and his sister would take part in from a very young age.
He said he always saw himself “more as an actor who sings than a singer who acts” in an interview with BBC radio.
Aznavour left school early -- and said he was always uncomfortable about his lack of higher education -- but after World War II he teamed up with fellow French icon Edith Piaf, who took him to America and a solo career.
As her manager and songwriter, Aznavour lived with Piaf for eight years, once remarking he saw many of her lovers come and go but he was not one of them as “she was not my type.”
Either way, Piaf’s endless badgering for Aznavour to get a nose job eventually paid off.
“As for criticism, I have heard it all: They said I was ugly, short, that the ill should not be allowed to sing,” he once told AFP in an interview.
“I had an exemplary career I never could have dreamed of.”